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How gardening helps older adults

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2011-03-20 12:51

Gardening promotes health in older adults

Older adults who engage in gardening are found to have higher activity levels and improved nutrition from vegetable consumption. Newer research and past studies have shown multiple benefits that come from gardening in senior populations.

Higher vegetable consumption from gardening

Seniors who garden are found to eat healthier. Findings from Texas A&M University and Texas State University, published in the journal HortTechnology, suggest gardening could be promoted as a way to ensure seniors eat more vegetables.

Data gathered from online surveys showed adults 50 years and older consume more vegetables that had no relationship to the amount of time spent gardening.

According to Tina Waliczek, study co-author, "Our results support previous studies that indicated gardeners were more likely to consume vegetables when compared with nongardeners. Interestingly, these results were not found with regard to fruit consumption.

The responses also showed that the length of time an individual reported having participated in gardening activities seemed to have no relationship to the number of vegetables and fruits they reportedly consumed. "This suggests that gardening intervention programs late in life would be an effective method of boosting vegetable and fruit consumption in older adults."

Most American adults do not meet recommendations for consuming five servings of fruits and vegetables daily. The findings from Texas State University support the development of "intervention" programs that promote gardening as a way to help older adults who suffer nutritional deficits linked to higher rates of mortality and morbidity.

Increased activity and energy

The researchers also found gardening can improve quality of life for seniors, in a study the authors say was designed "to determine if gardening had a positive impact on perceptions of quality of life and levels of physical activity of older adults (age 65 and above) when compared with nongardeners".

The researchers found gardening was associated with higher quality of life scores and increased physical activity for seniors, compared to non-gardeners.

More than 75 percent of seniors in the study who gardened reported their health as "very good" or “excellent".

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